Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas Bearwood!

I just love this! A great Christmassy song sung by one of my favourite bands. You just can't beat it!

Here is Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' being sung by Bearwood's favourites Dexy Midnight Runners and introduced by the one and only the very lovely David Essex!

Merry Christmas everyone with lots of love and best wishes for 2012 from welovebearwood!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas in Bearwood

This year Bearwood has definitely done Christmas in style!

We’ve had fantastic craft fairs courtesy of those lovely Crafty Muthas, a very merry Christmas Ceilidh at St Mary's Hall, Santa has visited Warley Woods at least twice, lots of gorgeous gifts to buy helped along by mulled wine and mince pies at Webb’s and the REP’s Snowman judging snowmen in Lightwoods Park.

There's been so much happening it's been amazing! Please forgive me if I’ve missed any yuletide events.

Starting tomorrow and bringing us nicely up to Christmas Eve we’ve got Bearwood on Ice.

It’s going to be great.....lots of market stalls, mulled wine and hot cider(yes please!), snowmen, a fun fair, inflatable slides and how could I forget the ice rink!

I know that I’m going to fall over and get lots of bruises but I can’t’s going to be such a giggle.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Windsor Theatre RIP

A while ago Mrs B Snr (my mother-in-law, who’s just lovely) told me that she used to catch the school bus from Moseley to Bearwood to go ice-skating. She couldn’t remember exactly where but she knew that it was on Bearwood High Street.

When I found out that Lightwoods Park is going to have its own iceskating rink on the run up to Christmas (very, very exciting!) I wanted to find out more so Mrs B Snr did some digging for me (see, I told you she’s lovely) and she found out that what is now Bearwood Snooker Hall used to be where the ice rink was in Bearwood.

I then went to the Smethwick Heritage Roadshow and found out even more – the snooker hall used to be the Windsor Theatre.

Inspired by finding this out we went to see if we could take any photos which would recapture the building’s splendour. I think we did! What a shame though that such a beautiful building has been so neglected – what a waste.

I don’t think I’m the only person to think so – for more details please click on here and here.

Mary Bodfish, local historian and Chair of Smethwick Local History Society, has written a brilliant article about the Windsor Theatre and there are even more surprises in store.

The Windsor was one of the most distinctive buildings in Bearwood, with its domed roof with the small lantern feature on the top, and the very large clock that projected from the wall. A fan-shaped glass awning sheltered patrons as they came up the steps to the beautiful glass-panelled doors. It was opened in 1930 as a “super picture and variety theatre” as part of the local empire of cinemas owed by local councillor Edward Hewitson. In a clever publicity drive before it opened he held a competition for local people to suggest the name for it and “Windsor” was suggested by a Mr Sankey, whose prize was a pass for permanent free entry.

During the Second World War the Windsor played a tiny but significant role in the victory of the Allies. A short-wave radio receiving station was installed in the roof and a Birmingham ear, nose and throat surgeon, Mr Naylor Strong, who had been an enthusiastic amateur radio operator before the war, was directed to come in regularly and listen in to the Wehrmacht, the German army radio signals , and report all transmission data to Station X, the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park.

After the war the theatre was re-opened, with variety, and revue, and amateur operatics. Stars performed there such as Winifred Atwell (pianist) and Frankie Vaughn – he was retained for a further week, as news of him spread and he played to packed houses every night, During the 1950s for three years the Windsor housed a repertory company called “Frank H Fortescue and his Famous Players, with Harold Wolfenden as the producer. The company put on 40 plays a year and a pantomime at Christmas. For a short season the plays were filmed for live transmission on television, but this of course was the beginning of the end for almost all live local entertainment and the theatre company folded within a year. Films were shown once again for period again then in the 1960s it was converted to a skating rink, which lasted a number of years before in being converted into a night club in the late 1970s, There I saw the wonderful Dolly Allen, the legendary Black Country comic – of whom it was rightly said “’Er’d mek a slab loff”. Finally, since 1982, the premises have been the Sandwell Snooker Centre.

This is a picture Mary found for us of the Windsor Theatre in the 1930s

Do you remember the Windsor Theatre in its former glory? If so we would love to hear from you so please email us at

Friday, 9 December 2011

Yee! Ha ! Take your partner by the hand....

Get your dancing shoes on Bearwood because you're in for a real treat!

Appearing for one night only the Cat's Whiskers Band will be getting everybody up on to the dance floor this Saturday night. The dancing starts from 6pm onwards at St Mary's Church Hall, just off Bearwood High Street.

Money raised goes towards Parkinson UK so don't miss your ticket today.

To purchase tickets please contact:Karen Blachford on 07908 681651 or call into St Mary’s tomorrow morning between 9.30 and 12.00 to purchase tickets from Marion Hills.

P.S. The above video footage is from their recent jig at St Martins Church in town.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa's on his way

Christmas has definitely come to Bearwood this weekend and Santa’s on his way!

This year he’s visiting Warley Woods twice (he can’t keep away!). On Saturday afternoon he’ll be at his grotto in Warley Woods Pavillions (so popular it’s really sold out!) and then he makes a return visit on Sunday afternoon.

Santa’s Sunday trip is one of my favourite times to visit Warley Woods. It’s just gone dark and all you can see is a spectacular row of lights. It really does look pretty and it’s just so cute. The lights are from all the children shining their torches so that Santa can find his way from the fountain to his grotto on his sledge (sponsored by Virgin Trains of course!)

The best thing for me though is the mulled wine raffle where every ticket wins a prize. Beats the German Market every time at half the price!

So wrap up warm, bring your children and a torch and get yourselves down to Warley Woods – it will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Walk the walk...

Based on the Brummie side of Bearwood (passports at the ready), Helen Gray who runs Pounce and Bounce loves animals. Turning this natural affinity into a business she now runs a Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Company and would love to help fellow Bearwoodians look after their pets.

Perhaps you feel that you never have the time to take your dog out for a nice long walk, especially now it’s getting nippy. Or maybe you’re at work all day and would love to know that there’s someone you can trust who would just pop in and check that your pet’s ok?

Cats, dogs, salamanders, giant African land snails (don’t think she’d take one of those for a walk though...might take a while), Helen’s happy to help - she’s fully insured (public liability and key cover), a member of the National Associates of Registered Pet Sitters, (NARPS) and CRB checked too.

If you’d like more info please visit Helen’s website or visit her on Facebook.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Anorakula spectacular!

Fiddly Paul (what a great name for a fiddle player!) is putting on a gig at the Bear (on Bearwood High Street) next Friday night, 9th December, and he would love fellow Bearwoodians to come along.

The show starts at 8pm and the line up comprises local bands Anorakula and Colin Hall's Gypsy Blood (Fiddly Paul plays in both bands – I’m impressed!) and Esther Turner, who I’m sure you’ll remember her from Bearwood Shuffle#1.

If you buy tickets in advance you get all this and a free samosa for £3 per person. Yes! I know, amazing! Tickets are available from Paul (don’t forget your fiddle!) by texting him on 07846 142 569 or emailing him at Tickets are £4.00 on the door.

The gig is in aid of Acorns Children’s Hospice so it’s for a really good cause too.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Tommy Hayes

Mary Bodfish, local historian and chair of Smethwick Local History Society, would like to nominate Tommy Hayes of TC Hayes, the electrical goods store at the Bear crossroads, for a Bearwood All-Star.

Mary tells us that his shop has provided excellent service and good value (welovebearwood agree!) to Bearwoodians for many, many years. Tommy has also supported the Smethwick Heritage Centre since it began in the late ‘90s.

I never knew this too (thanks Mary!) but the bear in the wood that you can see above an entry door to the TC Hayes premises has been there since 1894. Wow! He’s nearly 120 years old.

Here’s a lovely photo of the bear taken by local photographer Eric Collett.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Unmissable Bearwood Event! Crafty Muthas Handmade Fair Saturday 3rd December 2011

Hello readers of the We Love Bearwood Blog! I’m Erin Power and I make up 1/6th of the Crafty Muthas, a collective of 6close friends who love to bake and craft and generally make things by hand.

Early in 2010 we founded The Bearwood Tapestry, a very social craft night every third Thursday at The Bear Tavern. Over the past eighteen months, we have seen some truly great talent in Bearwood, and we wanted to give Bearwood the opportunity to see it as well! So it was that Bearwood Handmade was born.

Last year we held our first Handmade Bearwood Christmas fair and we were blown away by the warm response we received from visitors and stallholders alike. It seemed that Bearwood was more than ready for our particular brand of handmade loveliness and so we held a Springtime event in April this year, which was also extremely well attended. (You can read more about our previous fairs here and here).

Just over a week ago, on Saturday, November 19th, we had the first of our Bearwood Handmade Winter fairs of 2011 at St. Mary’s Church Hall and it was pretty overwhelming successful. How humbling it is to see the community of Bearwood continue to come out and support its local independent artists.

We had over 20 talented artisans selling their wares, and the quality of the items that was on offer was amazing. Everything from individually packed cupcakes to felt-heart-bunting to beautifully hand embroidered hoop art to vintage button bracelets... just to name a small few. Giant handbags, Christmas cards and ornaments, mosaics, pickled onions and chutney... I could go on and on (and on!)

I tried to take some photographs before the doors opened to capture a glimpse of people’s beautiful stalls and the lovely paper snowflakes dangling from the rafters... and sadly, i didn’t get everything! Time was short and once the doors swung wide, the hall filled up, and I could barely leave my stall to run to the loo, let alone take more photographs!

We have one more Bearwood Handmade fair to go... and it’s not long for you lucky people to wait! As I type this, it’s only 5 more sleeps until December 3rd! Once again we'll be at St. Mary’s Church Hall from 10am until 4pm, with over 20 stalls... but this time there will be even more different artisans represented. As the demand for stalls was so high we decided to hold two events on different days. If you came out to our fair on November 19th, it’s worth to come back for a second visit, as there will be much more to see and chose from... but still the same high quality of handmade art and gifts and cakes made here in Birmingham remains a constant. And if you missed the first... here’s your chance to come down and visit us. We look forward to seeing you there!

Erin (along with Ceri, Jayne, Jennie, Nat, & Rachel)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Webb's Winter Wonderland

Are you feeling the pressure of Christmas already? Only 30 days to go you know! Don’t know where to get your Christmas trees from this year? Dreading the queues in the shops in town? Find the thought of the German Market in town(there’s over 200 stalls this year!) very very scary?

Well, Bearwood has the answer...Webb’s!

Webb’s of Bearwood are expecting their first delivery of beautiful real Christmas trees this week so you’ll be able to buy one from this weekend. Why wait? Get in early! There’s nothing which puts you more in the mood for Christmas than a real tree.

They just look lovely too...

Webb’s are open 7 days a week and as from 1st December they will be open until 8pm every Thursday and Friday so you’ll be able to do some late night shopping. They’ll even serve free mince pies and a free glass of mulled wine – how civilised! Who needs town anyway!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bearwood Legend: Ken Wharton


I just love this video that Bill Munro sent welovebearwood about Ken Wharton. Everybody looks so smart - not sure about the smoking though!

Both Robin Hanny, who sent us some great info about Ken earlier in the year, and Bill Munro are researching into Ken's life and we would love to know if you knew Ken.

Did you ever see him race? Were you one of the two thousand people who attended his funeral? Did you ever get your car serviced at his garage? Please tell us about your link with a real Bearwood legend by emailing us at

A P.S from Robin Hanny:

The garage in the newsreel clip was in Hume Street, Smethwick. most of which sits beneath the ASDA car park. The lady doing the smoking which, incidentally, almost everybody did then, was Jean, Ken's sister. She worked at the garage alongside Ken's father and mother.

I know her children Kate, Sarah, Caroline and Ken (whose full name is Ken Wharton Emms). Jean married after Ken's death, when the garages had closed down. Kate and Sarah have been particularly helpful in my researches. Incidentally, if there was local interest, we could always put on a Ken Wharton exhibition, or I could do a talk about him. I have many photos, press cuttings and magazine articles.

If you want to see more Bearwood newsreel footage from early 1957, go to the website of MACE Archive, key words Ken Wharton, and you'll find TV newsreel footage of Ken's funeral. You will see Bearwood Road, St Mary's Road and church, the crowds and some very famous 1950s racing drivers, many of whom got killed in the 50s.

There is also a glimpse of one of the first Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwings which, althoug driven by a blonde, was owned by another garage owner/racer called Bill Whitehouse. He was killed racing in April 1957

Incidentally, Ken, his sister Jean and theirmother and father are buried in the same grave in Quinton cemetery. A large blackmarble edifice.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Webb's of Bearwood

I think it’s fantastic that Webb’s of Bearwood is 90 years old this year and still going strong! In these turbulent times that’s not an easy thing to achieve.

Webb’s did me a huge favour this summer because I wanted to get something a bit more exciting than a CD for my Dad’s birthday and my Mum suggested a bird table. I hunted high and low in town and in Harborne and had no success at all. Everywhere I went they said you’ve got no chance as it was far too late in the season.

Well what a load of cobblers! I had a brainwave, it does happen now and again, and I went to Webb’s instead. They had everything you could ever want to feed the birds in your back garden. I was able to get my Dad a really sweet little bird house, a peanut feeder, fat balls (they are called that you know!), a big bag of peanuts and a bird seed all from Webbs and all for a very good price too! I learnt a valuable lesson that weekend always go to Webb’s of Bearwood first!

I went for a wander down to the shop on Sunday for a bit of a mooch and in their gift shop there’s a gorgeous range of Christmas gifts and decorations. The gift shop has been up and running for over 3 years and I think Samantha Davis (Webb is her mum's maiden name) has done a brilliant job!

I fell in love with all the lovely things that you can buy there that I asked Samantha’s mum, Pauline, if it was ok for Mr B to take some photos. I bought one of the very cute gingerbread men for my Christmas tree.

All in all, Webb’s of Bearwood is a really friendly & helpful family run shop with loads of lovely things to buy all at very reasonable prices. They definitely deserves to be a Bearwood All-star.

Where do you like shopping in Bearwood? Please email us at with the details.

P.S. HOT NEWS! It’s just been announced that Webb’s of Bearwood are going to have a stall at Lightwood’s Park Winter Wonderland next to the ice-rink from Saturday 17th December to Christmas Eve. I can’t wait!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bearwood Event: Crafty Muthas presents Bearwood Handmade at St Mary’s Church Hall on 19 November 2011

Yikes! Just realised there's only about 6 weeks to go until Christmas Day so I’d better start thinking about doing my Christmas shopping.

No more last minute Christmas shopping whoopsies this year though I’m going to get really organised and make a early start by going to the Crafty Muthas’ Craft Fair this Saturday at St Mary’s Hall just off Bearwood High Street.

Here’s some more details about it.....

P.S If you can’t make the event this Saturday! Don’t worry! There’s another Bearwood Handmade event on Saturday 3rd December.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Haweli

I love going out for a balti because when I’m eating a good curry I always feel that I could never cook it as well and so cheaply at home.

Luckily for me my favourite balti house Haweli is just around the corner from where I live. I don’t get to go there as often as I would like but when I do I am never disappointed.

We went there last Sunday and the food was delicious – crispy poppadoms with minty raita, sizzling lamb shish kebab, fluffy warm Naan bread and spicy Chicken Jalfrazi all washed down with a nice cold Cobra beer. You can’t beat it!

Haweli is definitely one of my Bearwood All-Stars and I think lots of people would agree. My in-laws endured a 6 hour traffic jam due to the nasty accident on the M5 because you can’t get a good curry in Devon and even by 7pm on a Sunday night the restaurant was packed out.

Where is your ‘foodie heaven’ in Bearwood? Please email us at as we would love to know! My tummy’s getting hungry just thinking about it!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bearwood Events: Smethwick Heritage Centre Roadshow at St Mary's Church Saturday 12th November 2011

In the last few months I’ve found out so much more about Bearwood – Charlie Chaplin was probably born near here, motoring legend Ken Wharton lived here and the Beatles played here.

If you would like to know about Bearwood’s past, the Smethwick Heritage Centre Roadshow is in town this Saturday. The roadshow’s being held at St Mary’s Church, just off Bearwood High Street, from 10.30am until 4pm. There will be loads to see and hear and there will be special displays on British Pens Ltd and the Bearwood area.

At 2pm, local historian and chair of the Bearwood-based Smethwick Local History Society, Mary Bodfish (one of Keith B’s Bearwood All-Stars) will be giving a talk entitled 'Strange Tales from Smethwick' including ghostly tales about Thomas Chandler who was once the local fire station officer.

Admission is free too so it’s well worth a visit!

If you would like to know more about the roadshow and Smethwick Heritage Centre please go to their website at:

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bearwood Events: Christmas Charity Ceilidh in aid of Parkinson's UK

Calling all Bearwoodians! Get your dancing shoes on!

Fancy a fun local night out in aid of a very worthwhile charity?

Then come along to a charity Ceilidh featuring ‘The Cat’s Whiskers’ Barn Dance Band.

Here's the details:

Venue: St Mary’s Church Hall in Bearwood B66 4BX
Date: Saturday 10th December
Time: 6pm to 10pm

Tickets are £7 for adults and FREE for children aged 12 and under.

The entrance price includes a light buffet, soft drinks and tea and coffee.

To purchase tickets please contact:
Karen Blachford on 07908 681651 or call into St Mary’s any Saturday morning between 9.30 and 12.00 to purchase tickets from Marion Hills.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Bearwood Shuffle: future line-up

If I got asked all of the bands I’ve seen recently who I would want to be on the line-up for the next Bearwood Shuffle it would definitely have to be Man Like Me.

We saw them on Friday and OMG they were good! Have a read of The Hearing Aid’s amazing review to see why. I haven’t boogied so much in a long long time!

You may recognise Man Like Me from the recent IKEA ‘You’ll always find me the kitchen at parties '. Watch out for Jona Lewie who wrote the song.

Unfortunately Man Like Me are based in Camden so it seems unlikely that they’ll be playing at the next Shuffle. Boo!

However, Bearwood Promoters are busy planning their next event and would love to know who would you like to see play. If you’re in a band or would like to see your favourite local band please email with the details.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bearwood Trades: Hang in One Interiors

Brendan, owner of Hang in One Interiors, has fitted curtains in dozens of homes in Bearwood and the surrounding areas.

He used to fit for Nightingales and Dee Muir Interiors. Both of these shops have since closed down and he no longer has shop front access for the people of Bearwood.

Hidden away in Barclay Road,where he has lived for 20 years, Brendan’s business has expanded since those early days. He provides a complete curtain and blind supply and fitting service including custom made curtains, blinds, roman blinds, tie backs, cushions, pelmets, alterations, upholstery and carpet supply and fitting and he often works throughout the UK working with Mitchells & Butlers Harvesters, Ember and Vintage Inns and Whitbread.

His real passion is working in homes and his unique rearrangement and redesign service working with customers to re – vamp their homes without the hassle and expense of purchasing new and expensive soft furnishings or furniture.

His wonderful design ideas are endless and he transforms living space to look new and refreshed using existing furniture and accessories and sourcing a few inexpensive fabrics extras.

Brendan is avid collector of weird and wonderful things and loves the challenge of searching for the hard to find particularly his special interest vintage interiors.

You can catch up with Brendan via Twitter, Facebook or his website.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Bearwood's Charity Shops

Yeah! It’s almost the weekend! This Saturday afternoon I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything so I’m going to be able to do one of my favourite things....have a good old rummage through all the charity shops in Bearwood.

I think there’s roughly 10 in total and they definitely all deserve to be a Bearwood All-Star. I can’t say I have a favourite as it changes all the time depending on how well my bargain hunting has gone. Whether it’s a summer dress for a couple of quid, a Harris tweed jacket for a fiver or a chick lit novel for £1 I never come home disappointed.

I have to be honest and say that’s it only been in the last couple of years that I have really discovered the joys of charity shops. Much more fun than high street shopping where the same clothes are on the rails all over the country, much cheaper than designer gear, more exciting as you never know what you’re going to find, much better for the environment – reduce, re-use, recycle and most importantly, your pennies are going towards a good cause.

I’ve always loved having a good old mooch around the vintage shops in town but it’s recently dawned on me that they get a lot of the stock from ....yes you’ve guessed it charity shops!

I know that some people think there’s too many charity shops on our High Street but I’d much rather see charity shops than empty units. What do you think? Do you love them or hate them? Please email us at as we would love to know.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bearwood Mums: Meena and Angela

We’re Meena and Angela, two local bearwood mums, and we’ve been asked to do a blog following on from our involvement in the recent Bearwood Shuffle.

This is the first time either one of us has blogged so bear with (Miranda fans will get the joke!?!)

Well first off, a massive thanks is due to the organisers and volunteers of the Shuffle. It’s brilliant to know that local people are willing to go out of their way to set up a community event and what a brilliant day it was! We had a great time listening to the music (how good was the girl who sang with Mr Norton???) and meeting so many local friends whilst sitting at our craft stall.

Here’s a bit about us – we began crafting just over a year ago just as the monthly Bearwood Tapestry at the Bear Tavern began. (Another example of great community spirit set up by the local crafty mothers). We started with card making

and then started to get a bit more ambitious and have ventured into making sewn items such as cushions, keyrings, hair accessories and bags.

We really enjoy spending any spare minute crafting and taking part in craft fayres…we’re looking forward to the Tapestry Christmas Craft Fayre at St Mary’s Church Hall on 3rd December.

Here’s a sneak preview of some of our crafting…

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity Gig!

Fancy a good night out next Friday, 21st October?

Well, get yourselves down to O'Neill's on Broad Street (Birmingham) for a charity gig.

4 Flights Up are headlining with support from Boomshadow (if you saw them at Bearwood Shuffle#1 fingers crossed they'll wear fancy dress again!), Fang Rock and The Old 49ers.

The gig is to raise money for Birmingham Childrens Hospital and tickets are only £3.50 each - amazing value to see four great bands! Tickets are available through Richard Sanders (07831 421 241) to reserve for pick up on the night, or on the door if there are any left!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Mary Bodfish

Keith B would like to nominate Mary Bodfish as a Bearwood All-Star.

Mary has been an active local historian for many years with a keen interest in the history of Bearwood and Smethwick and is the chair of the Smethwick Local History Society.

As Keith puts it "Mary leads the way in trying to keep the history of Bearwood in the old county borough of Smethwick alive."

Keith has explained that Mary takes a real interest in local Bearwood issues and has been involved in discussions about the restoration of Lightwoods House in Lightwoods Park.

Who is your Bearwood All-Star? Which Bearwoodian makes you smile? Please email with the details and we would love to post it for you.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Dexys and Bearwood

Have a good listen to This Is What She’s Like by Dexy’s Midnight Runners (the talky bit at the beginning) and you’ll hear Kevin Rowland mention The Little Nibble which, if you remember, was a cafe on Bearwood High Street. It seems that the band used to love popping in there for a cup of tea.

Sadly The Little Nibble is now yet another greasy chicken joint, but Dexys’ links with Bearwood still remain strong as Pete Williams (Dexy’s original bassist and now in the reformed line up too) lives here. Local legend Colin Hall’s Rebel Soul collective regularly cover Dexy’s tunes too and, by a stroke of luck, they’re playing a gig at Thimblemill Recreation Club tomorrow night!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Unique Promotions

Keith B emailed welovebearwood to tell us that his Bearwood All-Stars are the husband and wife team (we would love to know their names!) who run Unique Promotions on Bearwood High Street.

Keith has been going to the jewellery and curio shop next to the Bear for over 15 years to get jewellery and watches repaired.

He told us that " they always have time for their customers and the advice they give is always knowledgable, fair and honest. The gentleman who runs the business always has time for elderly customers and makes a special effort to deal with them in a courteous and caring manner. In the past the proprietor has even delivered jewellery repairs to our home when we have not been able to get to the shop."

Please email us at and tell us which shop you think should be a Bearwood All-Star.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bearwood All Star: Neelams Kebab House

There’s nothing better on a Friday night after a hard week at work than a Neelams Chicken Kebab and chips. It’s become such a large part of our weekend routine that we don’t even have to give our order when we get there – they just know!

Neelams Kebab House has been going for about 14 years now and I think we were one of their first customers. We’ve seen the place grow from a tiny corridor to enough room for tables and chairs and now there’s a family room upstairs.

Whether you’re after masala fish or vegetable pakora Neelams never seems to disappoint. You always know you’ll get friendly service, fresh ingredients and good value for money. I know I’m biased but Neelams Kebab House definitely serve the tastiest, fattest chicken kebabs in Bearwood.

If you disagree, please email and tell us which local takeaway is your Bearwood All-Star.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Why just throw a party.....when you can throw a Just Jewellery party?

In the words of Kath, the party hostess with the mostess, “Just Jewellery has been going for 6 years and people rebook with us on a regular basis. We do travel to do parties but most of them are local to Sandwell and Birmingham.”

Get 10 friends round to your house and Kath will do the rest. All the sales are on the night - so you don’t need to worry about ordering or collecting money after the party - and you can even earn commission to buy some of the jewellery yourself just by holding the event.

If you want more info please email and we’ll forward her contact details to you.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Bearwood All-Star: Chicken Bone John

Although I’ve lived In Bearwood for quite a few years I still keep finding out exciting things about the place and it’s only been this year, through being involved with Bearwood Shuffle, that I’ve got to know local blues legend Chickenbone John.

Chickenbone John lives, breathes and makes his own guitars (who knows, he may even eat ‘em too). He’s personally built over 300 in total! He doesn’t play ‘normal’ guitars though, I've seen him play a guitar made from a cigar box and a petrol can, I believe he’s even played a wooden toilet seat guitar...probably a Muddy Waters track...euwww...sorry...couldn’t help it.

You've definitely got to see him play live to appreciate how fantastic he is and what better opportunity than at the Box Stock Festival this weekend.

Tonight they’re holding a free informal open mic night at the Ace of Spades Rock and Blues bar at The Barge and Barrel in Tipton, then tomorrow head on over to the Public in West Bromwich for cigar box workshops, talks, films and performances from international cigar box guitar legends. From novices who’ve never played cigar box blues before to Delta Blues experts there’s something for everyone.

Bearwood All-Stars

We reckon Bearwood’s got more than its fair share of claims to fame, whether it’s the people who’ve been born or lived here, the legendary venues scattered all over the place or one of the UK’s only Austrian restaurants (big up to Franzls).

So we’ve decided to compile a list of Bearwood All-Stars (see what we did there...clever eh...?). It could be anything from the fact that Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy played at the Bear (in the same week!) or that Frank Skinner started his career there, it could be Lightwood Chippy’s orange chips (one of the wonders of the world) or because Warley Woods has just been recognised as one of the People’s Choice parks in the UK. Hurrah!

Fancy getting involved? Just tell us all about your Bearwood All-Star, it could be whatever you want – a person, a place, a shop or even your local takeaway.

Just email us with a short explanation of why your Bearwood All-Star puts a smile on your face and we’ll make sure we write about them on welovebearwood.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Well done Warley Woods!

I've just come back from a long weekend away to find out the fantastic news about Warley Woods winning the silver award in the UK-wide Green Flag People's Choice Award.

I feel very proud especially as I love going to Warley Woods for a long Sunday afternoon walk and the award was voted for by the public - by you!

It's great news for Bearwood too as in the words of Council leader Darren Cooper, "It's just great,". "I'm absolutely thrilled. These awards dispel the myth that Sandwell is all about factories and industry.

"We've actually got some wonderful green spaces and these awards just show that people love the area and places like Warley Woods and Tipton Cemetery.

"It's nice to be able to say we've got these green spaces in an urban area and it just shows how much people appreciate them."

Here's a lovely picture of Warley Woods in all its glory:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I love late summer and autumn by Andrew's Plants

I have heard complaints about our unpredictable English weather from many of my customers throughout the summer. Some argue that it has been too dry, others too wet while almost everyone agrees that it has been too cold!

Now we go into the late summer and autumn period which has an amazing capacity to surprise us with bursts of summer and winter all contained within the same day.

This is the time of the year that I love most. I think that it is a dramatic time of year which brings out striking and sensational views of our plants and gardens. I think that it is a challenging few months for gardeners.

The countdown to the first frost has begun and many of the sensational perennials that have become favourites during the summer are starting to look tired. However, these months also provide a great opportunity to the gardener.

We are gifted with very artistic and dramatic lighting as the sun gets lower in the sky. We are also provided with a fresh layer of frost or dew most mornings to make our autumn Plants glisten and really show off.

During September and October plants for ‘autumn and winter interest’ really come into their own. The Curry Plant (Helichrysum angustifolium Dartington – is a particularly good variety) looks simply magical on a frosty and misty October morning.

A combination of hazy low level sunshine and the glistening dew combine well to bring out the best of the Curry Plants silver foliage.

As I look out of my kitchen window my favourite plant of the year is just beginning to flower. The Pampass Grass (Cortaderia Selloana) will produce beautiful feathery plumes from mid September onwards. Last year despite all the horrific weather my favourite plant kept these plumes until early February.

I love the defiance of the Pampass grass – saving its best display until the weather begins to turn and most other plants are tiring. Like the Curry Plant the Pampass plumes look amazing on a wintery morning.

I hope you enjoy the drama of this season as much as I do and are encouraged to build yourself a garden that will look great as we go into the autumn and winter!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Bearwood Shuffle 2 – Lightwoods Park Bandstand, Sunday 18th September

Challenging...that’s probably the best word to sum up the second Bearwood Shuffle, as least from the perspective of the hard working organisers and patient bands plagued by decidedly stressful sound/power related issues. Here’s a collective statement from the Shuffle crew:

“We were totally let down (multiple times!) by HSS who did not supply the generator we ordered and needed and we were grateful to Harborne Tool Hire for reacting quickly to get us what they could on Saturday night.

As a non-profit group that has to borrow all the equipment we'll be looking closely at the differences between the excellent PA system we had for the first Bearwood Shuffle and the reasons for the difficulties with the one on Sunday. As the audience many of you have fed back that you loved the afternoon despite the difficulties.

Thank you for supporting us as we learn more about bringing excellent music to Bearwood - and thank you to the fantastic and patient bands who really make the Shuffle what it is. A true community based event in our wonderful local park!

Sadly, in amongst the ongoing hubbub, I was unable to actually catch much of the music, certainly not to the full on head nodding, note taking, chin stroking extent that I normally indulge in. However it all sounded pretty awesome to me in the background. Our genial MC for the day, the legendary Dr Agamemnon When, introduced the first band of the day, The Nortons, who blasted things off with their particularly quirky brand of indie pop (Pingu’s Got An ASBO...genius). Little Liam bought a bit of streetwise Ocean Colour Scene style class to proceedings and The Sharp Darts gave rock n’roll a much needed knee in the balls.

With bits of sound equipment busting all over the place and the brave tech crew battling to keep things afloat it’s a miracle that the Rudie and the Revolvers (pictured above) sounded so great (sax, keyboard, drums, guitars, two vocalists, some serious skanking...a bit more of a challenge than your average band line-up). They did though, providing a blistering run through some of the greatest mod, ska, soul classics of the last 40 years. Spotted a young toddler near the front dancing his pants off and playing air guitar like a pro. We’ve put his name down for a Bearwood Shuffle sometime in 2027...we might have recovered from this one by then).

Kumari dropped by again for another drop of rasta good vibes before Mr Naylor provided the day’s biggest ‘aaaaaahhhh’ moment with a rap about what a great mum his co-vocalist Terri is. Soppy it ain’t, sounds like they had a tough time, but she’s clearly done a fine job of bringing up her kids. Finally (and after more urgent repairs to the dying sound equipment than NASA had to do during that Apollo 13 mission) Aziz Ibrahim and Dalbir Singh Rattan stunned the hardy (and incredibly patient) crowd to an all too brief (our fault, not theirs) taste of their unique blend of rock, psych and tabla. Set closer My Star finished just as the sun fell behind the trees of Warley Woods, a magical end to a pretty full on day.

All that remained to do was some mild litter picking, packing away the chemical toilets (not as nice a job as it, untangling the leads and bits of kit all over the bandstand and dismantling some of the biggest gazebos ever built in the dark and the Shuffle collective was finally able to stumble home.

Once again, huge thanks to the bands (more patient than Buddha with a spliff), Dr When, the crowd who turned up and stuck with us, the stallholders and food vendors and everyone who supported the event in any way, shape or form.

PS: If anyone would like to buy /give us a PA and a generator we'd be very happy to hear from you...sponsorship deals/cake are available.